Fact or Fiction

These are some of the FAQs (frequently asked questions) posed by new researchers into Hansen family history.


Q. Was Captain Thomas Hansen born in Denmark?
A. No. Older generations of the Hansen family generally believed that Captain Hansen had been born in Denmark. The late Charlie Martin tried to confirm this in the 1960s and drew a blank. Later, when other people started researching at Mormon Family History Centres, the true facts emerged.

Parish registers for St. Peter's Cornhill, London, show that a Thomas Hansen was baptized there on 8th May 1763 which generally coincides with his accepted year of birth being 1762. The baby's parents were Thomas and Mary Hansen.


The following is an extract from The First Family by Ron Martin:
At that time there was a large Scandinavian community living in London, centred around Well Close Square in Wapping. They had come to London after the great fire in London in 1666. They were the London end of the supply of timber from Northern Europe needed to rebuild the town. By the time Thomas was born his family could have been in London for nearly 100 years.

Samuel Marsden spoke about Captain Hansen as 'an Englishman'. We know that he married in London and that his two children were born there. No evidence has come to light of a Danish birthplace.


Q. Was Hannah King Letheridge the first European female to be born in N.Z.?
A. No. For many years, there was speculation and confusion surrounding Hannah who was born 11th January 1817 at Oihi, the eldest child of Thomas Hansen Jnr and his wife Elizabeth. The birth was recorded in the private diary of William Hall, one of the three original missionaries.


The first female birth was Dinah Carruthers Hall, at the Rangihoua mission station, the second child of William and Dinah Hall. A seven year old Dinah was sent back to New South Wales for her schooling and never returned. So, the slightly younger Hannah Hansen grew up in the settlement as the oldest female child and as the years passed and memories of Dinah faded, Hannah herself was probably led to believe that she was indeed the first white girl to be born in New Zealand.


Hannah married twice and died not far from her original birthplace at the grand old age of 90 years. She was buried in the Russell cemetery and the headstone contains the mistaken reference to her being the 'first white woman born in New Zealand'. It also states that she was born in January 1816 and that she was 91 years of age.


Modern methods of research have proved to be more accurate than family memoirs and it is a fact that she was just 90 years old. Her parents were married at Parramatta by Rev. Samuel Marsden on 25th December 1815. Thomas Hansen took his 16 year old bride back to the Bay of Islands on the Active which left Port Jackson on 24th January 1816.

Contact Information

1814 Hansen Family Society Inc.
Auckland, New Zealand

Committee members details